Abitare il nuovo/abitare di nuovo ai tempi della crisi
12-13 December 2012
Department of Urban Design and Planning Federico II University of Naples
via Forno Vecchio 36, Naples
The workshop will be focused on the themes of the rights to the city, housing and the environment, with the aim of discussing issues, strategies, design tools and policies relevant to planning in the current political-economic phase.
In the current political-economic phase, affected by the global financial crisis started in 2007-08, the reduction of public investments in crucial sectors as services and welfare, as well as increasing social conflicts, are strongly putting into question, in Europe and elsewhere, the issue of the rights to the city, and calling for more attention to alternative modes of habitability inspired by principles like adaptation and innovation.
In such a perspective, the rights to the city and the environment comes to forefront and challenges planning to revise its themes, approaches and tools.
The issue of housing gets new importance as well, and calls for an in-depth investigation about new urban formations, on one side, and new approaches to constructions in a sustainable perspective, rational use of resources, building heritage management on the other.
In such a frame, the invitation to scholars from different fields focusing on the transformations of the built environment proposes three different tracks, hereafter briefly summarized.
T1. TOOLS AND STRATEGIES TO INHABIT THE CRISIS
In the current phase, urban and regional planning is challenged, on different scales, by new demands and dimensions of habitability produced, in times of crisis, by massive processes of socio-spatial restructuring (new combinations of poverty and marginality, racisms, polarization of degradation and environmental regeneration, functional segregation, etc..).
In such a perspective, for example, the economic and political divide between continental and peripheral regions in Europe, one of the core-themes of cohesion and development policies produced in these past years by the EU, seems more critical today, when crisis is heavily pushing countries to the edge of peripherization or internal fragmentation.
A new territorial project, dealing with transformations of the built environment and emerging socio-economic patterns of crisis, is a rising challenge occurring in a cultural and economic cycle that, 40 years after, brings back to the political agenda issues like austerity and sobriety of society and institutions.
Finally, a new focus on urban micro-politics, i.e. practices of social production of space coping with issues of power and conflict, emphasizes the potentials that field research, often carried out through cases designed for the micro scale (neighborhoods), may display in terms of a different interpretation of the “effects of globalization” on contemporary cities.
T2. INHABITING: THE HOUSING DESIGN
This issue has been usually approached, in recent years, as a part of the debate on sprawl or density, in terms of technological upgrading related to sustainable energies, or in social terms relating to the construction of new housing.
None of this aspects can be considered secondary, indeed all of them have an indispensable role in the contemporary debate on residence, but it is also important to rethink and consider some specific design aspects: the functional program, the spatial organization of the house, the building typologies, the types of aggregation, common areas, public and semipublic spaces. And finally come back to consider the role of a distinctive feature of specific culture settlements always played by the theme of housing.
Reasoning about housing design, now means to focus on the spaces of the contemporary city, not only in large areas of urban addition, but also in many unresolved and unfinished places, and in all the landlocked, hybrid or wasted areas, into the structural body of the city.
A further field of reflection is offered by the transformations taking place in urban consolidated areas. In this cases the existing architectural heritage is constantly adapting to internal processes, producing spatiality, typologies and different ways of living, with an approach focused on the interpretation of the tangible and intangible traces suggested by the pre-existence, which combines echoes of theoretical models.
In this variety of cases and situations it is important to develop a theoretical debate on projects that have addressed these issues, and on several theoretical studies (starting from studies on housing to urban researches on new issues related to the existing, to the need to control the use of resources). This set of different components can generate innovative contribution to the topic, reviewing critically some "invariant" of the design of the house, such as recognition, modularity and types of aggregation, just to mention few examples.
It can be useful to relate these invariants with further aspects, that reflect the contemporary design of the house, working on new spatial categories, starting from an idea of flexibility, versatility, functional organization, as a design strategy, to respond to a new request of life style and to the changing of family units with different ways of living.
T3. SUSTAINABLE PROCESSES FOR THE QUALITY OF LIVING
In the recent frame of environmental, energy, economic and social crisis it is necessary to better understand the urban dynamics and the various contexts where nowadays we can outline new challenges for the built environment induced by scenarios characterized by “poor” environmental resources (land and water), limited financial resources availability, rising energy and environmental costs for the management of building processes and buildings’ lifecycle.
The objective crisis conditions and the awareness about the irreversibility of transformations under way are driving towards new strategies, processes, tools, design solutions and technologies in order to define new logics in the construction industry capable of offering effective responses to the outlined issues.
Some strategic themes can be identified as the ability to mitigate and adapt to new environmental conditions as the result of climate change, the proposition of better housing models and the definition of appropriate ways to achieve the economic development of the sector, compatible with individuals’ social and cultural needs.
The architecture action fields in which economic growth, environmental safeguard and the use of new energies can be better conjugated, can be found, according to numerous studies, in building and urban rehabilitation, energy saving actions related to urban spaces and buildings, technology innovation, performance approach, urban and building local development, in sustainable and strategic design.